When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.


In Paris, Misery And Music Blended For The Big Screen

Dec 24, 2012

Half an hour into Tom Hooper's adaptation of the long-running stage musical Les Miserables, he fixes his camera on Anne Hathaway's tortured, tear-streaked face, and she delivers what ought to become one of the great moments in musical cinema history — right up there with Dorothy singing wistfully of a land far away, Gene Kelly swinging happily around damp lamp poles, and a problem like Maria singing to the grassy Austrian hillsides. She's that good.

It's also Hathaway's last big moment in the movie, as the single-mother-turned-prostitute Fantine, who dies early in the story. It's a testament to the performances delivered by the actors in the film's bigger roles that the remaining two hours aren't spent wishing for more Fantine.

It's also a testament to the strength of Claude-Michel Schonberg's music that everything after the show-stopping lament of Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream" doesn't come across as so much padding.

Schonberg's diverse songwriting has always been the show's greatest asset, matching the impressively epic scope of the story — adapted from Victor Hugo's gargantuan historical novel about the lives of a number of interconnected characters in the years leading up to the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris — with an equally impressive range of musical styles. Huge patriotic anthems coexist alongside wistful love songs, comic barroom pieces with tragic laments, the joints smoothed over by the composer's habit of frequently echoing themes and familiar bits of melody. There's plenty of opportunity for those musical quotes too, as the work is nearly devoid of spoken dialogue, through-sung with recitative sections connecting the larger pieces.

Hooper makes some interesting casting decisions, blending accomplished musical theater actors with some not known for their voices. Broadway veteran Hugh Jackman takes on the central role of Jean Valjean, the honorable ex-con around whom all these other lives seem to revolve. Samantha Barks is the only actor here to reprise a role she played onstage, as Eponine,the daughter of two crooked innkeepers — Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, in excellently conceived comic casting. Hathaway stands out as an actor not generally associated with musicals; others in that category not so much, like the slightly too-warbly Amanda Seyfried as Fantine's daughter Cosette, and thin-voiced Eddie Redmayne as the revolutionary romantic Marius, who falls for her. Then again, their love-at-first-sight romance is the least interesting subplot of the film, so it's difficult for them to rise above the blandness of their story.

The biggest surprise though may be Russell Crowe as Javert, the dogged inspector who tracks Valjean over the 17 years covered by the film. At first listen, Crowe sounds miscast, a barroom singer put on a stage too large. Yet his brutish vocal presence tends to fit Javert, who is in many ways the movie's most fascinating character, a man who plays an instrument of blind justice when he's really carrying out a lifetime of revenge for the sins of his parents. His transformation from emotionless oppressor to penitent man is the film's most significant character journey, and a fitting personal face for the political strife that forms the story's backdrop.

Part of the success of the performances in the film owes greatly to Hooper's decision to record the actors singing on set, rather than have them lip-sync to pre-recorded tracks, the usual method for filming musicals. The technique works exactly as intended: The actors, freed from having to match a vocal performance from weeks or months prior, are able to live in the moment. The impact on the emotional immediacy of the songs is striking.

Unfortunately, if Hooper is to take credit for what that technique adds to the film, he also takes the fall for failing to match that innovation visually. Too many songs are shot in long, single-shot close-ups of the actor singing; the intent may have been to further showcase the performance (and to keep the actors from running out of breath — witness Redmayne's dodgy vocal performance while forced to walk and sing during "In My Life"), but in practice it makes the movie visually static when everything about it is constantly moving. It takes an expansive epic and stuffs it into a too-restrictive frame.

The movie also suffers somewhat from the obvious skimping on digital effects. Digital backdrops and establishing shots are used frequently, and none look convincing. When Javert walks the edge of the Parisian rooftops during "Stars," it's difficult to take the danger seriously when it's so obvious he's only at risk of falling onto a green screen covered over with digital images.

Luckily, it's hard to concentrate on anything but Crowe in that moment, as he delivers one of his best performances in recent memory here. That's how it goes with the rest of the movie too, as the music and the magnetic performances make many of the directorial missteps fade into the background.

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